A man has had a lucky escape from serious injury in a mid-morning crash in which a van left a highway in slippery and wet conditions and rolled down a bank northwest of Napier today.
The crash was reported at 8.56am, and happened on a bend about 500m north of Te Pohue on State Highway 5, the Napier-Taupo highway.
The Lowe Corporation Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter attended the man, who had been able to get out of the vehicle and suffered mainly cuts and abrasions.
The man, in his 30s and the sole occupant of the van, was flown to Hawke's Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Hastings for assessment.
Police, fire, and ambulance services also attended but there were no disruptions to traffic.
The crash happened less than 12 hours after another SH5 crash on Tuesday night. Three vehicles were involved in that incident, about 9.30pm between Eskdale Drive and Linden Close, Eskdale. While a person was initially reported trapped in one of the vehicles, no one was in the vehicles when emergency services arrived and no injuries were reported.
On Wednesday morning a fuel spill near Waitangi Bridge, on SH51 near Awatoto, was reported just after 10am. The spill appeared to have come from a motorcycle fall.
Hawke's Bay Police Eastern District road policing manager Matt Broderick said the crashes were a timely reminder of the need for extra care on roads in Hawke's Bay amid significant and immediate changes on the roads.
He said motorists would have to deal with both a return to heavier traffic flows in the transition from Covid-19 alert level 3 to the more relaxed constraints of level 2, and wet and slippery roads following months of fine and dry weather which had created one of the worst droughts in the region.
Recent police speed limit enforcement ticketing shows the average speeds detected are higher than usual, which indicates motorists have been prepared to put the foot down more on roads which had appeared quieter with less traffic during the lockdown.
"Every motorist needs to drive safely according to the conditions," he said.
The messages have been reiterated nationally by police and highways authority Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
National road policing manager acting Superintendent Gini Welch said: "Some of us may not have driven at all for seven weeks, or will have only taken short trips to the supermarket. We may be feeling a bit rusty behind the wheel or overwhelmed by the amount of cars back on the road again."
Another lookout point is the expectation of more children on the streets as primary schools re-open on Monday, and Welch said: "For parents, it's also a good time to remind your children and teens about road safety."
Waka Kotahi NZTA senior manager road safety Fabian Marsh urges motorists to be aware of the greater numbers of pedestrians and cyclists on roads.
Meanwhile, rain was of little benefit to farmers in drought-stricken areas of Hawke's Bay.
MetService reported that in the area of the two crashes in the 24 hours to Wednesday afternoon, rainfall varied from 20mm at SH5 landmark Te Haroto to 2mm at Hawke's Bay Airport.
In Hastings there had been 2.2mm, 0.8mm on the Takapau Plains in Central Hawke's Bay, and 1mm at Wairoa.